A new poll has revealed different generations are willing to sell each other out over Brexit.
The research by YouGov showed people are so polarised over the referendum result that one in four young Remain voters would see pensions cut to stop Brexit, while the same proportion of older Brexit voters are willing to accept reduced wages for the next generation in order to secure it.
Commissioned by social mobility charity The Challenge on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on social integration, the poll also shows:
- 62% of over-65s think we were right to vote Leave (compared to just 19% of 18-24-year-olds.
- When asked how the government should proceed with Brexit, older voters were five times more likely to say we should leave right away (39% compared to 8%).
- Nearly three-quarters of young people who voted Remain believe older people are prejudiced, and a similar percentage of older Leave voters believe young people are entitled and unwilling to work hard.
APPG chair and Labour MP Chuka Umunna said: “The way that different generations relate to one another has significant consequences for our politics, wellbeing, and shared future.
“We are more divided by age today than at any other time in modern history, with Brexit a defining issue of the gap between generations, and must urgently find a way of healing the divisions.
“Studies show that connecting with people of different age groups makes us more trusting and bridges the generational divide. When we come into contact with one another, we see we’re on the same side.”
The poll, and supporting research, is published on the same day the APPG launches its inquiry into intergenerational connection.
The cross-party group will examine how different generations relate to one another in modern Britain, and how society is affected when people of different age groups don’t meet and mix.
The inquiry will also seek solutions to the growing divides between generations.
Conservative MP Matt Warman, the group’s vice chair, said: “The poll results published today are a worrying sign of the divisions between young and old in our society.
“We’re starting to live longer lives, and without intervention, these trends may be at risk of continuing. I’m delighted to be working with the APPG to attempt to find solutions to these problems and to see what would help to bring the country together as Britain leaves the EU.”
In terms of consensus, new analysis of the British Social Attitudes survey reveals that, regardless of age, people believe health, education and housing should be the biggest priorities for government spending.
Young and old alike share the belief that pensions and disability payments are the most important priorities within the welfare budget, although younger people were found to be more conservative on welfare policy than their older counterparts.
Research also revealed a “pronounced difference” in the cultural values of younger and older people, with the young holding more liberal attitudes toward premarital sex, same-sex relationships, and transgender people.
The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford and APPG member, said: “This poll reveals again that there is a pressing need to reach deeper than the careless slogans which shaped the referendum campaigns a year or so ago. We are a society at risk of fragmentation.
“While there are undeniably gaps in understanding, and divides between our generations, we can take heart in the news that generations also have many shared beliefs and opinions.
“Much good work is already going on to address these issues - I hope the work of the APPG can build on these solid foundations.”